Summary: Disturbing dreams prompt Castle to figure out what he did last summer, and the real story, with a Russian spy, former Al-Qaeda member, and would-be terrorist attack, is even crazier than he imagined.
Best Scene: Castle tells Alexis and Martha part of the story, choosing to unveil the rest to Kate over a bottle of wine.
Best Line(s): “Keep me close.” “Always.”
My Review: I have mixed feelings about this one. I was pretty disappointed by the story of why Castle went missing, but it did allow for some wonderful character interactions that softened the blow a bit.
I have a couple issues with the truth about Castle’s disappearance. For one, it was far-fetched, and not in a “o.k., I’ll suspend my disbelief” kind of way. No, it was far-fetched in a “there are way too many plot holes for me to believe this” kind of way. Trust me, I have no problem suspending my disbelief when it comes to TV, but I do have a problem ignoring basic logic, and this episode left me questioning the logic way too often. Why didn’t the CIA ask Castle instead of just taking him? Why was it necessary for his family to believe he was dead? How did the dumpster money drop tie into it? I’m sure some questions were left unanswered in the event of a season eight (like the circumstances of his shooting and why he was gone so long), but I wish that the questions that had been answered made more sense, and at least related a bit better to what we learned in the premiere. Another issue also arose from the way that the information was delivered; it felt like much of the episode was spent treading water, just so we could have a couple of long scenes with a bunch of information crammed into them.
I was also bummed by this explanation because it made the arc seem so pointless. I wasn’t shy about how much I hated “For Better or Worse” after it aired, but I had hopes that a great resolution in this episode would make me like it a bit more. But instead, we didn’t learn anything new about Castle, we weren’t introduced to some compelling new mythology, nothing. Ultimately, this feels like an arc that you could take out the show’s canon with pretty much no impact on the characters. And as any fan of serialized drama will tell you, that’s never a good thing.
I also wasn’t a fan of Espo basically telling Castle that he never believed his story and still didn’t. I didn’t like it in the premiere, and I like it even less now mainly because, given how long they’ve know each other, I don’t buy that Espo would doubt Castle. I also don’t love what it says about Javi’s faith in Kate’s judgment; he has to know she would never marry a guy she had reservations about.
On the positive side, my absolute favorite thing about this episode was the way that Kate supported Castle. I know it should be old news by now, but I’m still not over what a healthy, loving marriage these two have, and that was on full display here. Her concern over his dreams as well as her unwillingness to let him brush them off, showed how much she cares about his well-being. I think she recognized before he did that he was now in a place where he needed to find out what happened to him. Through all of the crazy theories and clues that didn’t add up, she never doubted him, even though it would have been easy to. She pushed for evidence (she wouldn’t be Beckett if she didn’t), but she also gave him the chance to build the story, as they have with so many cases in the past. All she asked, simply, was that he keep her close. And that’s what finally led Castle to some answers; that combination of good detective work, writer’s intuition, and trust in one another.
I also loved the way that Kate, Martha, and Alexis interacted in this ep. It was great to see the three women that Castle loves most come together to support him, each in their own unique way. I liked that both Alexis and Martha trusted Kate to reign Rick in if need be, and the quiet moments of Martha visiting Kate at the precinct and Alexis tentatively waking her up were so realistic, and showed the level of intimacy that is being reached in each of those relationships. At episode’s end, I also liked the way that Martha suggested Castle tell Beckett the whole story, like she knew that parts of it would be easier to tell his wife than his mother and daughter.
So yes, overall not my favorite (quasi) conclusion to a Castle storyline, but here’s hoping the last little chunk of the season improves upon it.